The top reasons to pursue a graduate degree include the opportunity to gain specialized knowledge, expand your career options and boost your earning potential. Choosing an accredited program can help you make the most of your investment and the opportunities that come with it.
If you are interested in advancing your career in music education, for example, two accreditations to look for in advanced degree program are CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) and NASM (National Association of Schools of Music).
Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction – Music online degree program checks both boxes. This NASM-accredited program prepares graduates at an advanced level for wide-ranging roles, both within and outside school settings.
Why Does Accreditation Matter?
Choosing the right graduate program can be challenging. Affordability may help narrow the field. However, when it comes to assessing quality, accreditation offers a reliable measure. As the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) explains, “accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials, and the press know that an institution or program provides a quality education.”
Accreditation is not necessary for universities and programs in the U.S. Institutions that seek accreditation are committing to a rigorous review process. Through self-reviews, peer review and site visits, the accreditation process promotes a culture of continuous improvement in academic quality.
Additionally, accreditation ensures students have better access to opportunities down the line in their careers. Prospective students who plan to seek financial aid will want to keep in mind that accreditation by a nationally recognized accrediting agency is a requirement for federal student aid eligibility.
Why Is NASM Accreditation Important?
While CAEP is the standard for universities with educator preparation programs (EPPs), NASM is a specialized professional accrediting agency for postsecondary education programs in music.
NASM was established in 1924 as an association of postsecondary music schools. It is the only accrediting agency for music schools recognized by the United States Department of Education. NASM accreditation signifies artistic and academic excellence. Fewer than 650 postsecondary schools, colleges, conservatories and universities are NASM-accredited.
NASM provides a framework for national standards in postsecondary music education, but the objective is not standardization. In fact, NASM advocates for the freedom of schools to experiment with innovative ideas.
In addition to covering topics such as curricular components, NASM accreditation addresses expectations for faculty, a crucial factor in educational quality. For example, faculty qualifications include:
- Having the appropriate experience, education and expertise for the subjects and levels they teach
- Representing professional standards in specific fields and specializations
- Effectively guiding student learning, including through communicating personal knowledge and experience
- Contributing work in music-related fields as professional composers, practitioners, performers and scholars
Notably, NASM standards for Governance and Administration include seeking student input on matters that directly impact them.
Earning an advanced degree can be personally and professionally rewarding. In terms of landing the job or promotion you want with the salary you expect, a graduate degree can enhance your credibility and give you an edge in the recruitment process. Taking that a step further, a program’s lack of accreditation can significantly impact the long-term value of a degree.
Just as accreditation can help prospective students evaluate a graduate program, employers may consider accreditation to assess the quality of a candidate’s education.
Graduates of Southeastern’s online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction – Music program can go on to work as music coordinators, fine arts administrators, K–12 music teachers, adult education music teachers and more. The program’s NASM accreditation adds value as the stamp of approval employers may want to see.